Ceiling Heights Are Sealing Real Estate Deals For The Well-Heeled

Quick, name a residential attribute representing the height of elegance. These days, it just might be lofty ceilings. Ceiling height denotes sophistication, exclusivity and design flair, and that’s not the limit of its elevated benefits, as we will see in a moment.

But first it’s worth noting more and more buyers are seeking high ceilings in the homes they consider. A recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported two-thirds of home buyers would willingly fork out more cash for a home with ceilings soaring above the 8-foot mark. Armed with that knowledge, developers of new luxury residential settings are increasingly placing ceilings above the 10-foot level.

One of the reasons buyers and renters are willing to pay more may be scientific evidence about high ceilings’ impact on the human brain. Specifically, studies over the past dozen years have shown high ceilings encourage creativity and free thinking.

The trends in buyer preferences clearly show growing interest in high ceilings. NAHB’s October 1, 2018 “Trends in Home Buyer Preferences” report found that while 45% of buyers preferred eight-foot tall ceilings in 2003, by 2018 only 32% did. In that same 15-year stretch, the number preferring higher-than-eight-foot ceilings went from 54 to 67%. 

Pros and cons

This growing preference for high ceilings is increasingly evident despite several downsides to abundant overhead space. Most buyers are aware high ceilings both cost more to buy and are more expensive over time to heat and cool, low-ceilinged spaces being more energy efficient. As well, it is not as easy to clean high-ceilinged rooms. Rooms with cathedral ceilings can also present problems in placing furniture and art.

Still, for reasons ranging from the open feel to the view-maximizing potential of high-ceilinged rooms, sky-high ceilings are increasingly a must-have among the well-heeled.

“For those looking to purchase homes within new, luxury residential buildings in New York City, ceiling height has steadily transitioned from a wish list item to a deal breaker for many,” says Scott Walsh, senior development manager at Lendlease, developer of 277 Fifth Avenue, the tallest residential condominium on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue.

At 277 Fifth Avenue, Loggia Residences soar 20 feet high and penthouses 13.5 feet. Walsh adds. “227 Fifth Avenue’s residences boast elegant double-height ceilings that maximize natural light and offer unrivaled views of iconic buildings, like the Empire State Building.” 

Uncommon common areas

High ceilings elevate the sense of opulence and luxury enjoyed by residents, added Lloyd Goldman, president of BLDG Management Co., Inc. 

He observed that Summit, his company’s new rental in Midtown Manhattan, sets the high-ceilinged tone with a nearly three-story high lobby. “[It] serves as an entrance that greets our residents and guests with a breathtaking display of modern elegance and an ultra-luxury condominium impression,” he reported.

High-ceilinged common spaces are also selling points at apartment community 727 West Madison and condominium One Bennett Parkin Chicago. At the former, which at 45 stories is the tallest building west of the Loop, the lobby’s high ceilings allow for a 27-foot floor-to-ceiling window wall that ushers in abundant natural light and showcases views of the urban streetscape.

The latter, designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects (RAMSA) features a lobby with a two-story, stepped cove silver ceiling made more dramatic by the inclusion of a multi-dimensional, reflective floating sculpture from world-acclaimed artist Tomas Saraceno. RAMSA’s custom-designed light fixtures bookend the lobby’s marble fireplace, illuminating both the sculpture and the statement ceiling.

Additional buildings that take high ceilings to an elevated art form include 90 Morton in Manhattan, Turnberry Ocean Club in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., and 543 48th Avenue, a two-story townhouse in Long Island City, N.Y

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